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There's been an increase in sexual assaults among teens, says Cari

“Choking is a massive issue,” among teenagers, psychotherapist Stella O’Malley told RTÉ’s Today with SOR show.

Image: Shutterstock/Stanislaw Mikulski

THERE’S BEEN AN increase in the number of teenagers who’ve reported being sexually assaulted when socialising with other teens, according to an annual report by the voluntary organisation Children At Risk in Ireland (Cari). 

“Choking is a massive issue,” among teenagers, psychotherapist Stella O’Malley told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme this morning, saying that “girls being called ‘frigid’” because of rough sexual experiences that have been made prevalent by widely available pornography. 

O’Malley said that the most common incident that she would deal with, would be where teenagers would come in to a house party, then will have gone up to bed, and somebody will then be in their bed assaulting them. They will be confused about what happened, and would then have to decide what they’re to report the incident.

In its annual report, Cari said that there had been a “significant increase” of 36% in the number of children being referred for sexually harmful behaviour. 

Of those that Cari provided support and services for, four victims were abused in early infancy, between six weeks to two years old. 

Cari’s Executive Director, Eve Farrelly said its helpline is still being predominantly utilised by mothers and “is the gateway into our services”.

On whether these figures represented an actual increase in assaults or whether it was that more girls were reporting it, Farrelly said that “it’s probably a bit of both”.

Its therapy service provided over 2,000 therapy sessions for children and their families in 2018. Most of the children that we provided therapy for were aged between 7-12 years of age. 

We had 807 calls last year and the main concern for ringing was sexual assault, rape and sexualised behaviours. Of the children that we collected age related data from over our helpline, 34% were aged 10 and under.

The Cari Child Accompaniment Support Service (Cass) provides support for children and their families engaged in criminal proceedings,  and for when children are giving witness testimony during criminal trials.

Farrelly said: “We provided support for 90 children through criminal trials in 2018. We
recorded verdicts for 36 cases, of which, 67% were either a ‘found guilty’ verdict or a ‘guilty plea’ outcome.”

“What we continue to see through our forensic accompaniment service is that the younger the child is the more likely it is that the alleged offender is a family member.

When the child becomes a teenage the alleged offender is more likely to be outside the family. Many of the teens we supported presented with a concern of sexual abuse after a social event with groups of peers.

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